It was with what he modestly described as “the amateur’s passion” that US management guru and design aficionado Tom Peters addressed Chartered Society of Designers members and their guests at the Minerva dinner last week. ” I am rather amazed as to why design should need allies,” he kicked off, referring to Jeremy Myerson’s observations in last week’s Design Week. “Design has clearly defined in a fundamental way virtually every industry.”
Strong stuff, and it got better as it went on. “As we desperately pursue bases for differentiation, design makes obvious sense,” Peters observed, adding that this need for difference coupled with passion is what adds up to “design mindfulness”.
Of course, we expected no less of a man whose strong “left-brain” tendencies have made him a colourful renegade in his own field, spawning lively management tomes such as his latest epic, The pursuit of WOW. Maybe there is something in the fact that our champion is American.
The view that our transatlantic cousins are more astute about design than we are is an easy one to take. It is, after all, an essential part of Britishness to delight in knocking our own abilities. But you could argue that design has champions in industry here equally as passionate as Peters, though perhaps a little more reserved in disseminating the message.
But Peters wasn’t the only sign last week of US interest in design. Business Week’s 1995 design award-winners were announced (see News, page 6), with two Anglo-American firms, IDEO and Fitch, among them.
Here is something different – the business press taking an interest in design. The Financial Times does its bit over here to keep an eye on the creative industries, and both it and The Sunday Times run their own architectural awards. Wouldn’t it be great though if the Economist or Management Today could integrate design issues into their regular coverage. Now here’s a challenge the Design Council’s mighty publicity machine would do well to take up.